Toronto Raptors fans line up outside the Scotiabank Arena, in Toronto on Monday, June 10, 2019, to gain access to the fan area known as ‘Jurassic Park’ ahead of game five of the NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors ad Golden State Warriors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Fans pumped for potentially championship-clinching Raptors game tonight

It’s the first time a Canadian team has had a chance at winning the NBA finals

Eager Raptors fans donned ponchos, huddled under umbrellas and spontaneously burst into chants in downtown Toronto on Monday as they waited for a potentially championship-clinching game to tip off on the team’s home court.

Rain that fell on and off throughout the day didn’t dampen the spirits of those who waited to get into the Jurassic Park fan zone outside the arena where Canada’s sole NBA team will play the Golden State Warriors for Game 5 for the Finals.

READ MORE: Raptors a win away from NBA title after beating Warriors 105-92

Some had come from all over Toronto, others travelled from farther afield to be part of the excitement. The smell of marijuana wafted through the air as the line snaked halfway around the large arena, and predictions that the Raptors would take home the title could be heard all around.

“I’ve been a Raps fan since day one, young, young,” said 15-year-old Kamryn Thompsett. “Being in the NBA Finals is a big thing to me. If they win tonight, it’s party all night.”

Thompsett was in line with his friend, Zackery Spice. The two high schoolers had ditched classes, hopped on a bus from Uxbridge, Ont., with their moms and got in line around 6:30 a.m.

“We were up all night because we were scared we wouldn’t catch the bus,” said Spice, 15, who predicted the Raptors playing at home would give the team a boost. “We’re up 3-1, we could win.”

Shiva Baweja, who had come into the city from Mississauga, Ont., to get in line at 6 a.m., also predicted a big night for the Raptors.

“We’re going to win today,” said the 17-year-old. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a while.”

Even those who had only recently become fans of the team were brimming with anticipation.

“I just hopped on the bandwagon after we won, what’s it called, the semi-finals?” said 22-year-old Jediael Tracey. “Now they mean everything to me.”

Versions of the Jurassic Park fan zone, where large screens broadcast the games, have sprung up in cities across the country.

Peel police Sgt. Joe Cardi said his force was expecting 25,000 fans to show up at Mississauga’s Jurassic Park West, the name currently being used for the city’s Celebration Square.

“We want everyone to have a good time, cheer on the team, and make it home safely,” Cardi said. “Go Raptors!”

In Montreal, the enthusiasm for Canada’s lone NBA franchise was enough to create the unthinkable: a major downtown street was closed off Monday night so fans could cheer on a team from Toronto.

Starting at 5 p.m., a section of Peel Street became a Montreal version of Jurassic Park for the first time, with a big screen in place to broadcast the game. It is the same stretch of street that was closed off last week for festivities connected with the Canadian Grand Prix.

READ MORE: Where to watch the Toronto Raptors Game 5 of the NBA finals

Fans in Halifax were set to watch the game at block parties, while those in Regina can head to Mosaic Stadium, home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, to watch on the MaxTron screen. The screen is the largest in Canada, and — at more than 630 square metres — is even bigger than a standard NBA basketball court.

A special viewing party was also planned at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children for patients, their families and staff. The hospital is part of a charity challenge between Toronto Mayor John Tory and his Oakland, Calif., counterpart during the Raptors’ playoff run.

Tory and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf have been competing to see who can raise more money for a good cause, with Toronto fans asked to donate to the SickKids Foundation for the Hospital for Sick Children and Warriors fans challenged to give money to two food banks.

Other politicians have also been making wagers on the two teams.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a bet on the Finals with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, putting up bagels and beer against wine and chocolate.

Meanwhile, officials asked fans to be on their best behaviour while taking in the game, which begins at 9 p.m. ET.

In Toronto, city staff, police and the local transit agency said they were working with Raptors parent company Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to deal with the thousands that are expected to turn out.

“We would like to remind the public to make decisions that do not impact their own safety or that of others when gathering to enjoy the game celebrations,” said police spokeswoman Katrina Arrogante.

Online ticket-resale site StubHub said Monday’s game was its all-time NBA leader in sales. The highest ticket sold on the site for Game 5 was listed at $27,500, it said.

“The demand is indicative of a fanbase waiting 24 years for a chance at the country’s first NBA Championship,” said Paul Nowosad, general manager of StubHub Canada. “Fans want to be there for what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

READ MORE: Raptors remain all-business on eve of what could be historic victory

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Hometown girl returns to Hope as doctor-for-hire

Growing up locally, naturopath Sarah Sjovold is back and wants to help build a healthier community

They’re coming!

Communities in Bloom judges return to see if Hope has what it takes for another 5 Blossom year

Search continues for missing elderly woman in Chilliwack

RCMP, Chilliwack Search and Rescue and community members combing area for Grace Baranyk

VIDEO: Elderly woman with severe dementia missing in Chilliwack

Woman now missing more than 24 hours and missing her daily medications

Sts’ailes drum making coming to Harrison Festival

The workshop has been happening for years, bringing Indigenous teachings to the festival

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

Health Canada revokes licences of B.C.-based pot producer Agrima Botanicals

The agency said it notified the company of a suspension in November due to non-compliance with regulations

Deals, protests during Amazon Prime Day

The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth says it is offering more than a million deals

VIDEO: Hiker airlifted from Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park Sunday

Park east of Chilliwack popular with tourist and B.C. residents who walk up to the falls

Canadian national softball team wins second straight Canada Cup

Team Canada defeats Texas-based Scrapyard International in gold-medal game Sunday in Surrey

June sees drop in home sales, prices for real estate across B.C.: report

Sales dropped by 11.8%, while prices fell by 4%

Video captures driver narrowly avoiding hitting Granfondo cyclists in Okanagan

“I’m just glad that everything aligned enough and no one got hurt,” said Shaun Siebert

Teams from India, Croatia, Canada set to wow fireworks fans in Vancouver

An estimated 400,000 people flock to the downtown core each night of the 10 p.m. show

Most Read